Match Report - Dartmouth vs Harvard


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The Dartmouth Big Green’s string of misfortunes this season continued this weekend as they hosted Harvard in an Ivy League grudge match for Homecoming in Hanover on a bright mid-October morning. For the fourth time in six weeks Dartmouth opened the match by losing a tight-five starter to a season ending injury as Junior prop Kemper Pierce went down with a knee injury and was replaced by recent team-addition Dan Siegfried ’08.

Dartmouth Drops Heartbreaker

The Dartmouth Big Green’s string of misfortunes this season continued this weekend as they hosted Harvard in an Ivy League grudge match for Homecoming in Hanover on a bright mid-October morning. For the fourth time in six weeks Dartmouth opened the match by losing a tight-five starter to a season ending injury as Junior prop Kemper Pierce went down with a knee injury and was replaced by recent team-addition Dan Siegfried ’08.

The Crimson came out with fire early on, using a simple but well-organized attack to pick and jam the ball down the field running hard off the rucks with forward support. The Big Green withstood this initial push and repelled the Harvard attack, winning possession in their end. At around the 10 minute mark The Big Green faulted on a counter-attack kicking the ball into the hands of a Harvard defender providing pressure. The Crimson jumped on the loose ball and seconds later had tallied their first score and conversion, putting them ahead 7-0.

Dartmouth’s inexperience continued to plague them in the first half as only a few minutes later, they lost a lineout at the midline, proceeding to be whistled for a penalty in phase play which resulted in a dramatic shift in field position in Harvard’s favor. 10-meters and a rolling maul off of a Lineout later Harvard had dotted down again to take a very early 14-0 lead.

Finally, the Dartmouth offense began to feel its own rhythm as their speedy back line was able to find a few holes in the Harvard defense ripping off long line-breaks which were squandered as a result of poor handling and slow support. Dartmouth’s kicking game, usually quite reliable, also suffered this weekend and in the 15th minute the first of a handful of sure kicks sailed wide, robbing Dartmouth of an early answer.

Dartmouth would not be deterred however as only minutes later they drew some blood of their own, stealing a Harvard scrum on the Harvard 5 meter, and turning the gained possession into points as John Wilkens ’06 found Co-Captain Aziz Sayigh for the Green’s first try under the posts. The conversion from dead-on missed however, and Harvard maintained a 9 point lead. The Green stole those lost points back however just two minutes later, as Drew Jennings ‘08 capitalized on a Harvard penalty and nailed the kick to make the score 14-8 in Harvard’s favor.

The last score of the half however would make the deficit a bit more substantial as Harvard struck again in the 35th minute. Dartmouth lost a scrum attacking at the Harvard 40m, and in attacking the fractured defense the Harvard 8-man found open space deep in Dartmouth territory with a boot. Dartmouth under pressure was forced to knock the ball into touch to prevent an immediate score, but the subsequent lineout yielded the same result as Harvard turned the set-piece into two quick phases opening up the Dartmouth defense for the crashing outside center for the Dartmouth squad to find the try-zone beneath the posts, making the final halftime mark 21-8.

The first half would prove to play host to greater bulk of the game’s scoring as Dartmouth’s defense solidified as the game progressed. The offense however continued to struggle and failed to capitalize on repeated line-breaks and individual efforts that sliced hole after hole in the Harvard defenses. Poor handling and pressure decision making proved to be the downfall of the Dartmouth attack as they could not translate their raw athleticism into points.

Midway through the half Dartmouth’s prospects looked up for a moment as wing Jennings went screaming down the sideline off multiphase possession finding the try zone in the corner to pull the Big Green to within 8.

Harvard answered right back however as they had all game, putting pressure on Dartmouth’s back three with high up-and-under kicks and deep kicks into the corner. They tallied their final score in this fashion as back-up Doug Raicek ’08 had trouble handling a tough bounce on a deep kick, which happened to fall into the hands of the Harvard pressure who took it to the house putting Harvard ahead for good 28-13.

In the final minutes the Dartmouth attack continued to decimate the Harvard defense with long line-breaks but again and again failed to capitalized, even managing to knock-on twice in the Harvard try-zone. The hard-fought 13-28 loss eliminated Dartmouth from National Championship contention. The season however is not yet over as the Big Green now looks forward to an opportunity to play a long-time competitor in the University of Massachusetts this coming week. The 1pm kickoff on October 21st will be the last one to take place on Brophy Field in Hanover this season and the team seems intensely dedicated to re-establish dominance in their home domain. The following week Dartmouth will look to finish off the season with a win at Northeastern University in Boston.

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